Country singer Toby Keith’s sixth album Shock’n Y’all, his third-straight #1 country album, became his second-straight #1 pop album when it topped the Billboard 200 album chart on this day in 2003. (The title of the album was a pun on the so-called “Shock and Awe” bombing campaign that preceded the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003).
Shock’n Y’all owed much of its success to the #1 country single “I Love This Bar,” a song that has since led to the establishment of a chain of restaurants called “Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill." But the title and the bursting fireworks on the cover of Shock’n Y’all—not to mention the songs “American Soldier” and “Taliban Song”—played off of the patriotic political identity Keith had earned over the previous two years
The song that first moved Toby Keith into the national political spotlight was “Courtesy Of The Red, White And Blue (The Angry American),” an anthem that promised “a boot in [the backside]” to the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. A #1 country hit in the summer of 2002, “Courtesy” nevertheless had its detractors, including Dixie Chick Natalie Maines, who said of the song “I hate it….It makes country music sound ignorant.”
True to his musical persona, Keith was defiant in the face of such criticism. When the Dixie Chicks themselves became the objects of a country-radio boycott following controversial comments made onstage by Natalie Maines about the impending invasion of Iraq, Toby Keith took to performing in front of a gigantic backdrop featuring a doctored photograph of Maines standing next to deposed Iraqi dictator Sadaam Hussein.